ON-Lion Letter

The Walnut Way Conservation Corp. is revitalizing Milwaukee's Lindsay Heights neighborhood through economic ventures and civic-engagement programs and environmental programs.  Among other things, it helps local residents work together to stave off foreclosures, protect public safety, and tend to beautifying orchards on vacant city lots.

Last Summer, when 21-year-old Raymond Harris was shot and killed in a garden near Walnut Way's headquarters, it started a new program -- the Peace Project.

In May, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured an article on the Peace Project's efforts to stop further violence in the city.

"The Peace Project focused on boys and men between the ages of 12 and 30 who know Harris, or were at risk for being part of rising neighborhood violence," according to the story by Ashley Luthern.  "The goal was to help them find was to cope with their trauma, start healing and build self-esteem.  They met for weekly two-hour sessions for seven weeks at the Walnut Way Center ...."

One of the Peace Project participants with whom Luthern spoke was 21-year-old Carlton Dewindt.  "During the Peace Project, he said, his frame of mind changed," Luthern writes.  "Before he was focused on material things like shoes, clothes and cars, he said.  Now, he wants to be around for his 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son."

"I took it as a learning experience," Dewindt told the paper.  "He had just had twin kids.  I couldn't imagine not waking up and seeing my kids.  I just make sure I stay out of situations that would keep me away from them."

Dewindt became Walnut Way's first "peace ambassador" and will return there after one month in jail for a drug offense.

"If you've been in any of the situations in the area I'm from, I think you should want to see something different," Dewindt said.  "At least start with yourself.  You can't change the world, but you can change yourself."

Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation supports Walnut Way.

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